Create a neutral density Gradient filter with Photoshop elements
Sky too bright?
When photographing a scene such as a sunset or landscape, the sky can end up far brighter than the foreground. If you don’t use (or forgot to use ) a neutral density gradient filter, then you could add a neutral density gradient filter to your image with Photoshop elements.
Here I’ve used Elements 9, but this effect will also work with earlier Elements.
First open the photo (probably a landscape) in the elements editor, then press D to set your foreground colour to black.
From the layers palette choose gradient (it’s the half black/ half white circle icon).
In the gradient fill dialog box that appears, click on the downward facing arrow next to the gradient thumbnail. This will bring up the gradient picker, (shown below). Now double click on the second gradient from the left on the top, don’t click OK yet.
This puts the dark area on the bottom half of the image by default, so click on the reverse checkbox, this will reverse the gradient and darken the sky at the top of the photo and gradually fade towards the bottom.
At this point you can try clicking on the scale in the same dialog box and adjust the slider; this will effect how much the darkening will graduate down; from a smooth transition to a hard step transition. Also, if your horizon is not perfectly straight, then click on the line in the angle control circle and drag it round slowly in the direction of your horizon.
If your happy the way it is click OK. Your photo won’t look too good at the moment but stay with it.
Go to the layers palette and change the blend mode of this adjustment layer from normal to overlay.
Your photo should look something like this (below).
Unfortunately, the gradient will go right down to the bottom of the photo (where you don’t want it darkened), to correct this, go to the layers palette and double click on the thumbnail for the gradient adjustment layer to bring up the gradient fill dialog once more.
To control how far down the darkening will extend from the top of the photo, click once on the gradient thumbnail at the top of the diolog box, this brings up the gradient editor (shown below). Click on the top white opacity stop, (just below and to the right of where it says smoothness) and drag it to the left; the darkening effect will begin to move up your photo, stop when only the sky is effected, then click ok.
If the image still looks a little dark, go to the layers palette and click on the downward facing white triangle where it says opacity and drag the slider to the left to lighten it a little.
….and after editing